Embeddedness, cultural consonance, and health in a dynamic migration network in Northern Peru
This dissertation investigates the effect of migrant embeddedness on cultural consonance and psychological health outcomes. Specifically, this project evaluates the extent that migrants’ relative attainment of shared migration goals and lifestyle aspirations is a consequence of their position in a translocal network of fellow migrants with whom they share longstanding social relations. The research question is posed with respect to a diaspora community originating from the Andean village of Chugurpampa in La Libertad, Peru. In the late 1980s, Chugurpampa was a vibrant farming community, but 30 years of rising economic stagnation and climatic instability have driven hundreds to out-migrate to the nearby city of Trujillo to overcome poverty. This mixed-methods project was conducted across the pueblos jovenes (shantytowns) and urbanizaciones (neighborhoods) of Trujillo Province in La Libertad, Peru, where thousands of Liberteñan migrants have found success as shoemakers, merchants, business persons, drivers, and brick masons. Some youths pursue advanced studies in technical schools and universities with hopes of becoming professionals, which most regard the only reliable way to get oneself ahead in life. Research therefore focuses on: (1) the construction and distribution of cultural models of “Chugurpampan migration success” (CMS), including shared migration goals and lifestyle aspirations; (2) modeling the boundaries and structure of Chugurpampa’s diaspora in Trujillo; (3) evaluating individual levels of mental distress using two correlated psychological instruments as outcome variables in empirical testing. This project offers an understanding of how social structure influences cultural success and mental well-being. Specifically, research integrates concepts from social network theory and cognitive anthropology to empirically test whether migrants’ embeddedness in the Trujillo-based diaspora community shapes their cultural consonance in CMS and psychological health. Results suggest embeddedness and cultural consonance have an interactive effect against psychological stressors associated with rapid culture change. Strong ties such as close family and friends are costly to people who are more embedded and consonant overall, while less strong community ties such as neighbors, schoolmates, or acquaintances are economical because they require a fraction of the maintenance and broaden access to new resources via weak ties. Conclusions aim to explain how patterns of human mobility are embedded in hierarchical relational structures and cultural institutions that influence the knowledge, behavior, and mental wellness of immigrants.